Most people would be excited if their significant other surprised them with a trip to a romantic city. Jimmy Sjödin—former member of Sweden’s Olympic diving team—is no exception. But when his boyfriend, Patrick Huber, got down on one knee for a surprise proposal, he was blown away.
One night in this past July, Huber told Sjödin to pack a bag, keeping their destination a secret except for one clue: the pair would travel to a city Sjödin has always wanted to visit. They left their home in Munich, drove through the Italian Alps, and made their way to Venice, Italy.
Little did Sjödin know, there was an even bigger surprise in store. The couple took the obligatory romantic gondola ride through the old city, with a Flytographer, Serena Genovese, posing as their tour guide. Genovese had her camera ready as Huber knelt in front of Sjödin and proposed—mid-gondola ride! Sjödin was taken aback, he can barely remember the details of the surprise proposal.
“I had no idea or clue that this could or would be an engagement trip,” he told HuffPost. “All I can recall was something about wanting to always be there for me, to protect me and be my family and wanting to be my ‘forever boyfriend.’”
Huber’s words were special, but so was the ring he proposed with: he had matching custom rings made that the two of them wore throughout the rest of their engagement trip. “On the inside, instead of the classic engraving, there’s raised, stamp-like lettering spelling out each other’s nicknames for each other,” Huber told HuffPost. “So if and when we remove the rings, there will be a visible indentation in the skin of our names. The longer we wear the rings, the deeper the connection becomes.” * Swooooooon.*
Shortly after competing with Sweden’s diving team for the summer 1996 games in Atlanta, Sjödin, now 39, left the sport behind forever. “I stopped diving when I was 20,” he told Gay Star News. “I discovered I was gay and I wanted to finally have a social life.” He’d grown up training and competing constantly, so after coming out, he looked forward to a new chapter.
That led him to pursue many different lines of work, including graphic design, which he and Huber have in common. The couple first met online four years ago, when Huber messaged Sjödin on Facebook. They communicated through messages for a short time, but eventually lost touch. A few years later, they reconnected and finally met in person—that’s when Huber says he had a feeling they could go the distance.
“I honestly knew from before we even met that this guy could be the one,” Huber told HuffPost. “Meeting that first time and spending time together laughing, touching, and feeling each other’s energy, I think we both were sold.”
Fast-forward to just over a year later, in the afterglow of a surprise proposal, and the pair is planning their wedding. They’ll host a small group for a “relaxed and low-key weekend of events” in the German Alps on May 28—the day in 2016 when they made their relationship official. Then they’ll travel to the Four Seasons Maldives Landaa Giraavaru for their honeymoon.